Friday, July 17, 2009

Anaheim Day 10

General Convention – Day 10


It seems as if we have been living in a bubble for the last 10 days.  The House of Bishops have finished their business and are waiting on the Deputies.  We have managed to get through Day 8 business and are almost caught up.  Many parliamentary delays by a handful of folks, but  the mood of the House has shifted to "Let's get 'er done" in the words of a Florida deputy.


Significant strides have been made in adopting a denominational health plan which will be administered by the Church Pension Fund.  While not being mandated until 2012, the Diocese of Massachusetts moved to this last Diocesan Convention and we at Grace subscribed to it this year at substantial cost savings and better coverage that is more widely accepted (Blue Cross).


Also mandated was the mandating of offering lay employees pension benefits.  At Grace, we have been doing this for a number of years as a matter of justice, but I was surprised to learn the number of congregations that do not offer this benefit to their employees. 


And the big news of yesterday was the adoption of the Church budget for the next triennium.  $24M in cuts were made from the previous triennium, virtually eliminating anti-racism programming, women's programming oversight and major cutbacks in almost all areas of ministry and mission.  This also meant eliminating almost 35 positions of the current 185 at the New York and regional offices of the Church…the saddest part of the entire convention, knowing the people whose jobs you have had a hand in cutting because of the economic crunch.  As the Presiding Bishop said, much of this may look like death, but we are a people of the Resurrection.


Tempering the sadness is much to celebrate and for which we are thankful:  the continuing dioceses of Quincy, Fort Worth, San Joaquin and Central Pennsylvania deputations were greeted and acknowledged with joy and thunderous applause.  Study of the development of liturgical text for the blessing of same sex unions mandated and a variety of social justice issues received careful attention.


And…of particular import for we environmentalists…next GenCon will be digital.  All materials online, and a shortened convention in Indianapolis, deputies on digital notebooks will also streamline the process…not to mention eliminate all of those pesky papercuts!


One more major piece of legislation this morning and multiple housekeeping issues with adjournment later today....Deo gratias!


God Bless!

Rob Hensley+